Is Russia becoming the Free Trade forum for the Universe? – By Jim W. Dean, Managing Editor (VT)

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Macron’s St. Petersburg mission: Keep Russia in the European family

…from Russia Today, Moscow

The IMF’s Christine Lagarde was there

[ Editor’s Note: Some high stakes geopolitical poker has been going on at the Saint Petersburg Forum, where once again Putin is holding the stage as ground zero for free trade and a multi-polar world.

France and Germany are on stage letting the US know they have political and economic options if the US puts the squeeze on via tariffs or backing out of international agreements, where the US seems to be after the gold medal for that category.

The forum moderator was not making a cheap joke with his comment that one of Trump’s unique gifts was “bringing people together”, a left-handed way of really saying that Trump is pushing former US allies into closer relations with others because they see themselves being targeted by Donald and the NeoCons. 

Putin came up with the elephant in the living room by asking how one deals with an international partner who assumes that all past international agreements are up for renegotiation after every US national election.

No one in the US political arena in an official government position has shown any concern about the long term consequences of fickleness. One can hardly call it leadership. It is the kind of thing you would expect from Deep State operatives. Rules are for the “other people” to follow, but not them, and of course not for Israelis. I fear this all will get worse before it gets better… Jim W. Dean ]

 

Nobody “does Putin” like Putin … never hyping, keeping people guessing, and hiding his objective


– First published … May 26, 2018 –

SAINT PETERSBURG – The top table at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) hosted leaders responsible for around 30 percent of global GDP. And quite a line-up it was: Macron and Vladimir Putin, alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and IMF supremo Christine Lagarde.

Indeed, there was so much collective power gathered at Friday event that Bloomberg’s John Micklethwait, who was serving as moderator, quipped how it was the result of Donald Trump’s unique ability to bring people together. However, while humorous, this was an America-centric take that missed the bigger picture.

What was really happening in St. Petersburg was a sort of tug of war, where Russians flirted with East and West as they continue to ponder on which side their bread will be buttered in the future. While Washington and its sidekicks in London don’t seem overly perturbed by Russia’s drift to Asia, France and Germany are alarmed, and representatives from both countries continuously referenced the issue at the SPIEF.

And then Macron made it clear where he stood. “Russia is an inalienable part of Europe… mistakes have been made in the past… we must work to remove our divisions on many issues,” he said.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder had earlier warmed up to the same theme: highlighting how an energy partnership with Russia was in Europe’s vital interest. He also mocked US attempts to kibosh the proposed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, saying he wouldn’t currently look to Washington for “examples of high governance.”

Russian analysts present this week echoed Schroeder’s assertion that the Americans are wielding sanctions for business advantage. And Putin himself warned how protectionist measures could eventually lead to a devastating global crisis.

“The system of multilateral cooperation, which took years to build, is no longer allowed to evolve. It is being broken in a very crude way. Breaking the rules is becoming the new rule,” the Russian president remarked.

Also fascinating was how discourse at the SPIEF differed from the isolationist rhetoric prevalent in London and Washington these days. Putin expressed support for free trade and investment, as well as openness to Chinese companies operating in Russia and their people moving here in tandem.

Indeed, one Italian delegate remarked how the world had been turned on its head: “Thatcher and Reagan used to be the ones pushing these agendas, who would have imagined 30 years ago, Moscow and Beijing standing up for capitalist globalization?”

While Wang and Abe spoke of mutually respectful relations honed over many years, Macron was in a thoroughly different position. But the young French leader was keen to play the humble guest: beginning his speech with tributes to those in St. Petersburg who had died in the Second World War, before making a lengthy reference to Leo Tolstoy’s War & Peace.

Nevertheless, politics caught up to Macron when he praised French business for staying in Russia despite “tough times.” Because Russians present were quick to note how Paris was one of the primary drivers behind the Western sanctions that have hurt the Russian economy.

On the ground, the atmosphere was friendly. And the French descended in numbers, with leading companies from Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy to oil major Total investing in lavish stands.

“You look at Russian culture and it’s all European: from Pushkin to Tolstoy and Rachmaninoff to Tchaikovsky. Despite the geography, this is not an Asian country, in any way,” an exhibitor from Lyon noted.

Yet the Russians are keeping their options open. Putin pointed out that, beyond the bluster, French engagement in Russia isn’t as substantial as many might believe.

“Finland’s Fortum invested €6 billion in Russia, while the whole of France invested €15 billion,” he pointedly told Macron, who had earlier said that France desired to become the largest direct investor in Russia.

Putin outlined why this target was ambitious: “trade with Europe was worth $450 billion once, now it has fallen by half. With China, trade is going to reach $100 billion soon.” That said, despite these occasional reality checks, “Vladimir” and “Emmanuel” seemed to be hitting it off.

Russian business delegates wanted their officials to play all sides.

“Russia should be friends with everyone. Why should we choose?” Alina Ustinova from Rostov Oblast noted. “We are mostly European, but a bit Asian too and we must trade with all comers. Even the Americans are welcome, when they finally see sense.”

“I don’t see anything wrong with dancing with the French on Friday night and the Chinese on Saturday; perhaps we could even manage a Wednesday for Trump,” she teased.

Bryan MacDonald for RT

US violating intl law by breaking into Russian consulate in Seattle – embassy – By RT

US violating intl law by breaking into Russian consulate in Seattle – embassy
The US government is violating international law with its decision to break into Russia’s locked consulate in Seattle, the Russian embassy in Washington said in a statement.

What we see now is a gross violation of the Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Convention on Consular Relations,” commented Nikolay Pukalov, the head of the embassy’s consular department. “The Russian side did not agree on stripping diplomatic status from our property in Seattle and did not give permission to American officials to enter our territory.”

The spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, called the development “a hostile takeover” of the compound by the US.

The diplomatic building was evacuated earlier this week due to an order from Washington, which expelled 60 Russian diplomats and told the embassy to shut down the Seattle consulate in retaliation for the poisoning of a former double agent in Britain.

After the diplomats left on Tuesday, they locked the building. US officials on Wednesday broke into the compound.

The closure of Russia’s Seattle consulate was the latest in a string of diplomatic mission reductions taken by both sides over the past years. The pretext for this particular expulsion was the British accusation that the Russian government ordered an assassination of a former double agent. London failed to provide any public proof of the allegation and instead launched an international campaign to punish Moscow, finding a most eager participant in Washington.

The US claimed that the 60 diplomats it expelled were Russian spies and that the consulate in Seattle was heavily used for espionage purposes. Similar justifications were used when Washington ordered the shutdown of Russian missions in San Francisco and New York in September 2017.

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Syrian Army Reportedly Finds Documents in E Ghouta Linking Terrorists to the US – By Sputnik

A member of Syrian forces of President Bashar al Assad walks inside a tunnel that was used by rebels in Jobar, eastern Ghouta, in Damascus, Syria April 2, 2018

© REUTERS/ Omar Sanadiki
Military & Intelligence

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Following the liberation of East Ghouta, the Syrian military has found an extensive network of tunnels with underground hospitals that were used by terrorist groups to move safely and perform raids on Syrian army positions.

Syrian soldiers have found documented proof of the secret cooperation between a US-based company and terrorists in Syria in the tunnels discovered after the liberation of East Ghouta, the Fars news agency reports, citing anonymous source in the army. The source refused to give the name of the company, due to the sensitivity of the information and the fact that the investigation is still ongoing. But he reassured that the documents are corroborative and prove that the terrorists were funded and even paid regularly by the US organization.

READ MORE: US Caught Evacuating More Daesh Leaders in Syria — State Media

After the last groups left East Ghouta, the Syrian army started cleaning the city of what remained after the terrorists, including mine fields and booby-traps, and discovered a system of tunnels, connecting different parts of the town. The Syrian military found two hospitals, equipped not only with what terrorists had stolen from local hospitals, but also with more advanced equipment, reportedly produced in Western countries and Saudi Arabia.

READ MORE: US-Led Coalition Uses Al Hasakah Camp in Syria to Train Militants — Russian MoD

The US, which operates on the Syrian soil without the authorization of its government or a UN mandate, has been frequently accused of helping Daesh terrorists. Information surfaced late February and March in Syrian media that US helicopters were transporting Daesh commanders and their family members to Sabah al-Khair, which is believed by locals to be a terrorist training camp.

The military and arms industry effectively control America – By Eric Zuesse (Sott.net)

us military

Unlike corporations that sell to consumers, Lockheed Martin and the other top contractors to the US Government are highly if not totally dependent upon sales to governments, for their profits, especially sales to their own government, which they control – they control their home market, which is the US Government, and they use it to sell to its allied governments, all of which foreign governments constitute the export markets for their products and services. These corporations control the US Government, and they control NATO. And, here is how they do it, which is essential to understand, in order to be able to make reliable sense of America’s foreign policies, such as which nations are ‘allies’ of the US Government (such as Saudi Arabia and Israel), and which nations are its ‘enemies’ (such as Libya and Syria) – and are thus presumably suitable for America to invade, or else to overthrow by means of a coup. First, the nation’s head-of-state becomes demonized; then, the invasion or coup happens. And, that’s it. And here’s how.

Because America (unlike Russia) privatized the weapons-industry (and even privatizes to mercenaries some of its battlefield killing and dying), there are, in America, profits for investors to make in invasions and in military occupations of foreign countries; and the billionaires who control these corporations can and do – and, for their financial purposes, they must – buy Congress and the President, so as to keep those profits flowing to themselves. That’s the nature of the war-business, since its markets are governments – but not those governments that the aristocracy want to overthrow and replace. The foreign governments that are to be overthrown are not markets, but are instead targets.

The bloodshed and misery go to those unfortunate lands. But if you control these corporations, then you need these invasions and occupations, and you certainly aren’t concerned about any of the victims, who (unlike those profits) are irrelevant to your business. In fact, to the exact contrary: killing people and destroying buildings etc., are what you sell – that’s what you (as a billionaire with a controlling interest in one of the 100 top contractors to the US Government) are selling to your own government, and to all of the other governments that your country’s cooperative propaganda will characterize as being ‘enemies’ – Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, etc. – and definitely not as being ‘allies’, such as are being characterized these corporations’ foreign markets: Saudi Arabia, EU-NATO, Israel, etcetera.

In fact, as regards your biggest foreign markets, they will be those ‘allies’; so, you (that is, the nation’s aristocracy, who own also the news-media etc.) defend them, and you want the US military (the taxpayers and the troops) to support and defend them. It’s defending your market, even though you as the controlling owner of such a corporation aren’t paying the tab for it. The rest of the country is actually paying for all of it, so you’re “free-riding” the public, in this business. It’s the unique nature of the war-business, and a unique boon to its investors.

Thus, on 21 May 2017, US President Donald Trump sold to the Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia, an all-time-record $350 billion of US arms-makers’ products, which they’re now obligated to buy during the following ten years, with an up-front commitment of $100 billion during just the first year, so as to make even that one-year commitment an all-time record. This deal is by far the biggest part of Trump’s boost to American manufacturers – but it’s only to military manufacturers, the people who depend virtually 100% on sales to governments, specifically to ‘friendly’ governments: to ‘allies’, such as, in this case, to the Saud family.

In fact, the Sauds’ war against their neighbor Yemen is a good example of just how this sort of operation (profit to the billionaires, bloodshed and destruction to – in this case – the Yemenites) works:

Yemen’s war goes back to the “Arab Spring” revolution in Yemen, which overthrew the US-and-Saud-backed President, former Colonel and then General, Saleh. Wikipedia says of him: “According to the UN Sanctions Panel, by 2012 Saleh has amassed fortune worth $32-60 billion hidden in at least twenty countries making him one of the richest people in the world. Saleh was gaining $2 billion a year from 1978 to 2012 mainly through illegal methods, such as embezzlement, extortion and theft of funds from Yemen’s fuel subsidy program.[75][76][77]” And, furthermore: “New York Times Middle Eastern correspondent Robert F. Worth described Saleh as reaching an understanding with powerful feudal ‘big sheikhs’ to become ‘part of a Mafia-style spoils system that substituted for governance’.[18] Worth accused Saleh of exceeding the aggrandizement of other Middle Eastern strongmen by managing to ‘rake off tens of billions of dollars in public funds for himself and his family’ despite the extreme poverty of his country.[19]” Saleh fled to Saudi Arabia. Yemen’s Army installed the Vice President, and former General, Hadi to succeed him. Then, there was a second revolution, and, on 21 January 2015, the Shia Houthi tribe took over, and the rabidly anti-Shia Saud family promptly started their bombing of Yemen, using American training, weaponry and tactical and refueling support.

The US Government – like its ally the Saud family – is rabidly anti-Shia. That’s to say: The US aristocracy, like Saudi Arabia’s aristocracy (the royal family), is rabidly anti-Shia. But, whereas for the Sauds, this is motivated more by hate than by greed, it’s more greed than hate on the US side, because at least ever since the US coup in the leading Shia country, Iran, in 1953, it’s been purely about greed, specifically that of the oil (and other) companies who also (in addition to the armaments-firms) control US foreign policies. (For example, international oil companies need to extract and sell oil from many countries. They’re highly dependent upon the military, though not nearly to the extent that the weapons-firms are.)

The most recent poll that has been taken of American public opinion regarding America’s arming and training Saudi forces to fly over and bomb Yemen was taken during November 2017, tabulated on 28 January 2018, and finally published a month later, on 28 February 2018. This “Nationwide Voter Survey – Report on Results – January 28, 2018” asked 1,000 scientifically sampled American voters, “Question: Congress is considering a bi-partisan bill to withdraw US forces from the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Would you say that you support or oppose this bill?” It reported that, “Support” was 51.9%, “Oppose” was 21.5%, no opinion was 26.6%; and, so, 71% of the opinions were “Support”; only 29% were “Oppose.” That’s more than two-thirds supporting this bill to consider withdrawing US forces from that war. But, when the vote was taken in the US Senate, it was 55% opposing the bill, opposing, that is, consideration of the matter, and 44% supporting consideration of the matter (and not voting was 1% of the 100 Senators). 55% of Senators didn’t want the Senate to even consider the matter. Here’s how the issue had managed to get even that far:

On 4 December 2017, just weeks after that poll of Americans was taken, Russian Television headlined “Saleh’s death means a fresh hell beckons for Yemen”, and the US Government’s participation in the bombing of Yemen then did increase. This event – the murder of Saleh – raised the Yemen war to broader public attention in the country that was supplying the bombs and the weapons to the Sauds.

On 28 February 2018, US Senator Bernie Sanders was the lone sponsor of “S.J.Res.54 – 115th Congress (2017-2018)”: “This joint resolution directs the President to remove US Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting Yemen, except those engaged in operations directed at Al Qaeda, within 30 days unless: (1) the President requests and Congress authorizes a later date, or (2) a declaration of war or specific authorization for the use of the Armed Forces has been enacted.”

On March 19th, NBC bannered “Senators to force vote to redefine US role in Yemen” – that was merely to force a vote in the Senate, not actually to vote on the issue itself. However, given how overwhelmingly America’s voters opposed America’s arming the Sauds to slaughter the Yemenese, this vote in the Senate to consider the measure was the gateway to each Senator’s being forced to go public about supporting this highly unpopular armament of the Saudis; and, so, if it had gotten that far (to a final vote on the issue itself), the arms-makers might lose the vote, because Senators would then be voting not ‘merely’ on a procedural matter, but on the actual issue itself. So, this vote was about the gateway, not about the destination.

The next day, Breitbart News headlined “Administration, Bipartisan Interventionist Establishment Kill Aisle-Crossing Effort to Rein In US Military Involvement in Yemen” and presented a full and documented account, which opened: “The Senate resolution invoking the War Powers Act to demand the administration seek congressional authorization or withdraw American support from Saudi Arabia’s military operations in Yemen was defeated Tuesday by a vote of 55-44.” The peace-activist, David Swanson, headlined at Washingtonsblog, “Why 55 US Senators Voted for Genocide in Yemen”, and he alleged that the vote would have been even more lopsided than 55% for the weapons-industry, if some of the Senators who voted among the 44 non-bloodthirsty ones hadn’t been in such close political races. The weapons-industry won’t hold against a Senator his/her voting against them if their vote won’t even be needed in order to win. Token-votes against them are acceptable. All that’s necessary is winning the minimum number of votes. Anything more than that is just icing on the cake.

So, this explains how the US Government really ignores public opinion and only pretends to be a democracy. It’s done by fooling the public. On the issue of which countries are ‘allies’ and which are ‘enemies’, and other issues regarding national defense, all necessary means are applied in order to achieve, as Walter Lippmann in 1921 called it, “the manufacture of consent.” He wrote:

That the manufacture of consent is capable of great refinements no one, I think, denies. The process by which public opinions arise is certainly no less intricate than it has appeared in these pages, and the opportunities for manipulation open to anyone who understands the process are plain enough. The creation of consent is not a new art. It is a very old one which was supposed to have died out with the appearance of democracy. But it has not died out. It has, in fact, improved enormously in technic, because it is now based on analysis rather than on rule of thumb. And so, as a result of psychological research, coupled with the modern means of communication, the practice of democracy has turned a corner. A revolution is taking place, infinitely more significant than any shifting of economic power.

The CIA virtually controls the ‘news’ media.

The most corrupt part of the US Government is the ‘Defense’ part. That also happens to be – and by far – the most popular part, the most respected (by the American public) part. That’s a toxic combination: toxic not only for a government’s domestic policies, but especially for a government’s foreign policies – such as for identifying which nations are ‘allies’, and which nations are ‘enemies’. This type of mega-toxic combination can’t exist in a nation whose press isn’t being effectively controlled by the same general group that effectively controls the Government (in America, that’s the richest few, by means of their many paid agents), the Deep State. In America, one key to it is that the ‘Defense’ firms are privately owned.

POSTSCRIPT:

On March 24th, Zero Hedge headlined an opinion-article “The Death of Democracy” and Alasdair Macleod said that, “The Deep State is on course to take control of Congress. If this happens, it will be the next step in a global trend of side-lining democracy in the West, driven in large part by American foreign policy. It has led to governments everywhere increasing control over their people, in an inversion of democratic principles.”

Furthermore:

“The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has identified 102 seats as ‘competitive’ in its red-to-blue campaign programme. Eighty of these seats are vulnerable Republicans, and 22 are seats where the incumbent is retiring. 57 of the 221 candidates standing for the Democratic nomination in these 102 districts are current or past agents of the military-intelligence complex. And of those 102 districts, 44 have one of these candidates, 11 have two, and one has three. Furthermore, there are indications that the financial backers of the Democratic Party are supporting this influx of intelligence operatives, and that they are well-funded.”

Macleod went on to say that they’ve already apparently taken over Trump:

“There can be no doubt that the chaos in the White House since Trump’s victory has reflected a fight behind the scenes for control of foreign policy, homeland security and military spending. It has been about the CIA’s ultimately successful attempts to ensure Trump backtracked on relevant electoral promises and complies with its own agenda. So far, Trump has backed down on Russia, North Korea, Iran and on military spending, suggesting he is well on the way to becoming the Deep State’s lackey. It now seems the CIA wants to control the balance of power in Congress.”

His conclusion is:

“If the US military-intelligence complex manages to pack out Congress, it will be the killer blow for any democracy remaining in America. It will clear the field for a secret state organisation, which has shown little or no regard for human life and the rule of law, to accelerate its warlike agenda. It will have unfettered access to the national finances to accelerate its programme of global aggression, and damn the consequences for anyone else.”

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Comment: So few in the US and abroad truly understand that war is one of the most profitable and pervasive businesses in the world – and just how far greed is in the motivation to justify trillions – that’s Trillion$ – in mind-boggling war spending.

Why the West Cannot Stomach Russians – By Andre Vltchek (NEW EASTERN OUTLOOK)

Author: Andre Vltchek

 

 

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When it comes to Russia or the Soviet Union, reports and historical accounts do get blurry; in the West they do, and consequently in all of its ‘client states’.

Fairytales get intermingled with reality, while fabrications are masterfully injected into sub consciousness of billions of people worldwide. Russia is an enormous country, in fact the largest country on Earth in terms of territory. It is scarcely inhabited. It is deep, and as a classic once wrote: “It is impossible to understand Russia with one’s brain. One could only believe in it.”

The Western mind generally doesn’t like things unknown, spiritual and complex. Since the ‘old days’, especially since the crusades and monstrous colonialist expeditions to all corners of the world, the Westerners were told fables about their own “noble deeds” performed in the plundered lands. Everything had to be clear and simple: “Virtuous Europeans were civilizing savages and spreading Christianity, therefore, in fact, saving those dark poor primitive souls.”

Of course, tens of millions were dying in the process, while further tens of millions were shackled and brought to the “New Worlds” as slaves. Gold, silver, and other loot, as well as slave labor had been (and still are) paying for all those European palaces, railroads, universities and theatres, but that did not matter, as the bloodshed was most of the time something abstract and far away from those over-sensitive eyes of the Western public.

Westerners like simplicity, particularly when it comes to moral definitions of “good and evil”. It matters nothing if the truth gets systematically ‘massaged’, or even if the reality is fully fabricated. What matters is that there is no deep guilt and no soul-searching. Western rulers and their opinion makers know their people – their ‘subjects’ – perfectly well, and most of the time, they give them what they are asking for. The rulers and the reigned are generally living in symbiosis. They keep bitching about each other, but mostly they have similar goals: to live well, to live extremely well, as long as the others are forced to pay for it; with their riches, with their labor and often with their blood.

Culturally, most of the citizens of Europe and North America hate to pay the bill for their highlife; they even detest to admit that their life is extremely ‘high’. They like to feel like victims. They like to feel that they are ‘used’. They like to imagine that they are sacrificing themselves for the rest of the world.

And above all, they hate real victims: those they have been murdering, raping, plundering and insulting, for decades and centuries.

Recent ‘refugee crises’ showed the spite Europeans feel for their prey. People who made them rich and who lost everything in the process are humiliated, despised and insulted. Be they Afghans or Africans, the Middle Easterners or South Asians. Or Russians, although Russians are falling to its own, unique category.

*

Many Russians look white. Most of them eat with knife and fork, they drink alcohol, excel at Western classical music, poetry, literature, science and philosophy.

To Western eyes they look ‘normal’, but actually, they are not.

Russians always want ‘something else’; they refuse to play by Western rules.

They are stubbornly demanding to remain different, and to be left alone.

When confronted, when attacked, they fight.

They rarely strike first, almost never invade.

But when threatened, when assaulted, they fight with tremendous determination and force, and they never lose. Villages and cities get converted into invader’s graves. Millions die while defending their Motherland, but the country survives. And it happens again and again and again, as the Western hordes have been, for centuries, assaulting and burning Russian lands, never learning the lesson and never giving up on their sinister dream of conquering and controlling that proud and determined colossus.

In the West, they don’t like those who defend themselves, who fight against them, and especially those who win.

*

It gets much worse than that.

Russia has this terrible habit… not only it defends itself and its people, but it also fights for the others, protecting colonized and pillaged nations, as well as those that are unjustly assaulted.

It saved the world from Nazism. It did it at a horrific price of 25 million men, women and children, but it did it; courageously, proudly and altruistically. The West never forgave the Soviet Union for this epic victory either, because all that is unselfish and self-sacrificing, is always in direct conflict with its own principles, and therefore ‘extremely dangerous’.

The Russian people had risen; had fought and won in the 1917 Revolution; an event which terrified the West more than anything else in history, as it had attempted to create a fully egalitarian, classless and racially color-blind society. It also gave birth to Internationalism, an occurrence that I recently described in my book The Great October Socialist Revolution: Impact on the World and the Birth of Internationalism.

Soviet Internationalism, right after the victory in WWII, helped greatly, directly and indirectly, dozens of countries on all continents, to stand up and to confront the European colonialism and the North American imperialism. The West and especially Europe never forgave the Soviet people in general and Russians in particular, for helping to liberate its slaves.

That is when the greatest wave of propaganda in human history really began to roll. From London to New York, from Paris to Toronto, an elaborate web of anti-Soviet and covertly anti-Russian hysteria was unleashed with monstrously destructive force. Tens of thousands of ‘journalists’, intelligence officers, psychologists, historians, as well as academics, were employed. Nothing Soviet, nothing Russian (except those glorified and often ‘manufactured’ Russian dissidents) was spared.

The excesses of the Great October Socialist Revolution and the pre-WWII era were systematically fabricated, exaggerated, and then engraved into the Western history textbooks and mass media narrative. In those tales, there was nothing about the vicious invasions and attacks coming from the West, aimed at destroying young Bolshevik state. Naturally, there was no space for mentioning the British, French, U.S., Czech, Polish, Japanese, German and other’s monstrous cruelties.

Soviet and Russian views were hardly ever allowed to penetrate the monolithic and one-sided Western propaganda narrative.

Like obedient sheep, the Western public accepted the disinformation it was fed with. Eventually, many people living in the Western colonies and ‘client states’, did the same. A great number of colonized people were taught how to blame themselves for their misery.

The most absurd but somehow logical occurrence then took place: many men, women and even children living in the USSR, succumbed to Western propaganda. Instead of trying to reform their imperfect but still greatly progressive country, they gave up, became cynical, aggressively ‘disillusioned’, corrupt and naively but staunchly pro-Western.

*

It was the first and most likely the last time in the history, Russia got defeated by the West. It happened through deceit, through shameless lies, through Western propaganda.

What followed could be easily described as genocide.

The Soviet Union was first lulled into Afghanistan, then it was mortally injured by the war there, by an arms race with the United States, and by the final stage of propaganda that was literally flowing like lava from various hostile Western state-sponsored radio stations. Of course, local ‘dissidents’ also played an important role.

Under Gorbachev, a ‘useful idiot’ of the West, things got extremely bizarre. I don’t believe that he was paid to ruin his own country, but he did almost everything to run it into the ground; precisely what Washington wanted him to do. Then, in front of the entire world, a mighty and proud Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics suddenly shook in agony, then uttered a loud cry, and collapsed; died painfully but swiftly.

A new turbo-capitalist, bandit, pro-oligarch and confusedly pro-Western Russia was born. Russia which was governed by an alcoholic Boris Yeltsin; a man loved and supported by Washington, London and other Western centers of power.

It was a totally unnatural, sick Russia – cynical and compassionless, built with someone else’s ideas – Russia of Radio Liberty and Voice of America, of the BBC, of black marketers, of oligarchs and multi-national corporations.

Is the West now daring to say that Russians are ‘interfering’ in something in Washington? Are they out of their minds?

Washington and other Western capitals did not only ‘interfere’, they openly broke the Soviet Union into pieces and then they began kicking Russia which was at that point half-alive. Is it all forgotten, or is Western public again fully ‘unaware’ of what took place during those dark days?

The West kept spitting at the impoverished and injured country, refused to honor international agreements and treaties. It offered no help. Multi-nationals were unleashed, and began ‘privatizing’ Russian state companies, basically stealing what was built by the sweat and blood of Soviet workers, during long decades.

Interference? Let me repeat: it was direct intervention, invasion, a grab of resources, shameless theft! I want to read and write about it, but we don’t hear much about it, anymore, do we?

Now we are told that Russia is paranoid, that its President is paranoid! With straight face, the West is lying; pretending that it has not been trying to murder Russia.

Those years… Those pro-Western years when Russia became a semi-client state of the West, or call it a semi-colony! There was no mercy, no compassion coming from abroad. Many of those idiots – kitchen intellectuals from Moscow and provinces – suddenly woke up but it was too late. Many of them had suddenly nothing to eat. They got what they were told to ask for: their Western ‘freedom and democracy’, and Western-style capitalism or in summary: total collapse.

I remember well how it was ‘then’. I began returning to Russia, horrified, working in Moscow, Tomsk, Novosibirsk, Leningrad. Academics from Akadem Gorodok outside Novosibirsk were selling their libraries in the bitter cold, in dark metro underpasses of Novosibirsk… Runs on the banks… Old retired people dying from hunger and cold behind massive doors of concrete blocks… unpaid salaries and starving miners, teachers…

Russia under the deadly embrace of the West, for the first and hopefully last time! Russia whose life expectancy suddenly dropped to African Sub-Saharan levels. Russia humiliated, wild, in terrible pain.

*

But that nightmare did not last long.

And what happened – those short but horrible years under both Gorbachev and Yeltsin, but above all under the Western diktat – will never be forgotten, not forgiven.

Russians know perfectly well what they do not want, anymore!

Russia stood up again. Huge, indignant and determined to live its own life, its own way. From an impoverished, humiliated and robbed nation, subservient to the West, the country evolved and within a few years, the free and independent Russia once again joined ranks of the most developed and powerful countries on Earth.

And as before Gorbachev, Russia is once again able to help those nations which are under unjust and vicious attacks of the Western empire.

A man who is leading this renaissance, President Vladimir Putin, is tough, but Russia is under great threat and so is the world – this is no time for weaklings.

President Putin is not perfect (who is, really?), but he is a true patriot, and I dare say, an internationalist.

Now the West, once again, hates both Russia and its leader. No wonder; undefeated, strong and free Russia is the worst imaginable foe of Washington and its lieutenants.

That’s how the West feels, not Russia. Despite all that was done to it, despite tens of millions of lost and ruined lives, Russia has always been ready to compromise, even to forgive, if not forget.

*

There is something deeply pathological in the psyche of the West. It cannot accept anything less than full and unconditional submission. It has to control, to be in charge, and on top of everything; it has to feel exceptional. Even when it murders and ruins the entire Planet, it insists on feeling superior to the rest of the world.

This faith in exceptionalism is the true Western religion, much more than even Christianity, which for decades has not really played any important role there. Exceptionalism is fanatical, it is fundamentalist and unquestionable.

It also insists that its narrative is the only one available anywhere in the World. That the West is seen as a moral leader, as a beacon of progress, as the only competent judge and guru.

Lies are piling on top of lies. As in all religions, the more absurd the pseudo-reality is, the more brutal and extreme are the methods used to uphold it. The more laughable the fabrications are, the more powerful the techniques used to suppress the truth are.

Today, hundreds of thousands of ‘academics’, teachers, journalists, artists, psychologists and other highly paid professionals, in all parts of the world, are employed by the Empire, for two goals only – to glorify the Western narrative and to discredit all that is standing in its way; daring to challenge it.

Russia is the most hated adversary of the West, with China, Russia’s close ally being near second.

The propaganda war unleashed by the West is so insane, so intense, that even some of the European and North American citizens are beginning to question tales coming from Washington, London and elsewhere.

Wherever one turns, there is a tremendous medley of lies, of semi-lies, half-truths; a complex and unnavigable swamp of conspiracy theories. Russia is being attacked for interfering in U.S. domestic affairs, for defending Syria, for standing by defenseless and intimidated nations, for having its own powerful media, for doping its athletes, for still being Communist, for not being socialist anymore; in brief: for everything imaginable and unimaginable.

Criticism of the country is so thorough and ludicrous, that one begins to ask very legitimate questions: “what about the past? What about the Western narrative regarding the Soviet past, particularly the post-Revolutionary period, and the period between two world wars?”

The more I analyze this present-day Western anti-Russian and anti-Chinese propaganda, the more determined I am to study and write about the Western narrative regarding Soviet history. I’m definitely planning to investigate these matters in the future, together with my friends – Russian and Ukrainian historians.

*

In the eyes of the West, Russians are ‘traitors’.

Instead of joining the looters, they have been standing by the ‘wretched of the world’, in the past, as well as now. They refused to sell their Motherland, and to enslave their own people. Their government is doing all it can to make Russia self-sufficient, fully independent, prosperous, proud and free.

Remember that ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’ and many other terms, mean totally different things in distinctive parts of the world. What is happening in the West could never be described as ‘freedom’ in Russia or in China, and vice versa.

Frustrated, collapsing, atomized and egotistic societies of Europe and North America do not inspire even their own people, anymore. They are escaping by millions annually, to Asia, Latin America, and even to Africa. Escaping from emptiness, meaninglessness and emotional cold. But it is not Russia’s or China’s business to tell them how to live or not to live!

In the meantime, great cultures like Russia and China do not need, and do not want to be told by the Westerners, what freedom is, and what democracy is.

They do not attack the West, and expect the same in return.

It is truly embarrassing that the countries responsible for hundreds of genocides, for hundreds of millions of murdered people on all continents, still dare to lecture others.

Many victims are too scared to speak.

Russia is not.

It is composed, gracious, but fully determined to defend itself if necessary; itself as well as many other human beings living on this beautiful but deeply scarred Planet.

Russian culture is enormous: from poetry and literature, to music, ballet, philosophy… Russian hearts are soft, they easily melt when approached with love and kindness. But when millions of lives of innocent people are threatened, both the hearts and muscles of Russians quickly turn to stone and steel. During such moments, when only victory could save the world, Russian fists are hard, and the same is true about the Russian armor.

There is no match to Russian courage in the sadistic but cowardly West.

Irreversibly, both hope and future are moving towards the east.

And that is why Russia is desperately hated by the West.

Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, a writer of revolutionary novel Aurora and several other books. He writes especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”
https://journal-neo.org/2018/03/08/why-the-west-cannot-stomach-russians/

Vladimir Putin just revealed 6 brand new Russian weapons – and they are impressive – By Alexander Mercouris

The weapons are formidable and cutting edge, but affordable

By far the greater part of President Putin’s State of the Nation address on 1st March 2018 was devoted to economic issues.  However inevitably it was the part of his address which touched on new weapons systems which attracted the most attention.

Here they are

(1) Sarmat heavy ICBM

This is the best known of the new strategic nuclear weapons systems that President Putin touched on in his State of the Nation address.  In fact we have discussed it previously.

Here is what President Putin had to say about it

Sarmat will replace the Voevoda system made in the USSR. Its immense power was universally recognized. Our foreign colleagues even gave it a fairly threatening name.

That said, the capabilities of the Sarmat missile are much higher. Weighing over 200 tonnes, it has a short boost phase, which makes it more difficult to intercept for missile defence systems. The range of the new heavy missile, the number and power of its combat blocs is bigger than Voevoda’s. Sarmat will be equipped with a broad range of powerful nuclear warheads, including hypersonic, and the most modern means of evading missile defence. The high degree of protection of missile launchers and significant energy capabilities the system offers will make it possible to use it in any conditions…..

Voevoda’s range is 11,000 km while Sarmat has practically no range restrictions.

As the video clips show, it can attack targets both via the North and South poles.

Sarmat is a formidable missile and, owing to its characteristics, is untroubled by even the most advanced missile defence systems.

Sarmat’s range has previously been disclosed to be 17,000 km.  Putin says it weighs 200 tonnes – roughly the same as its predecessor Voevoda – and double what had been reported previously.

One aspect of the Sarmat which Putin did not touch on is that it may have revived a 1960s Soviet concept referred to in the US as ‘FOBS’ (‘Fractional Orbital Bombardment System’).

The idea behind FOBS was that an ICBM would place its nuclear warheads in low earth orbit from where, after orbiting for a short time, they would fall upon their targets on earth.

Such a system would have no range limit, whilst the orbital flight path of the warheads would not reveal the target location.

It would allow a path to North America over the South Pole, hitting targets from the south, which is the opposite direction to the one from which US early warning systems are oriented.

Putin’s references to the Sarmat having “practically no range restrictions” and being able to “attack targets via the North and South Poles” suggests strongly that it uses a FOBS system.

If so then there is a huge irony to this.

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 was supposed to ban nuclear weapons being placed in earth orbit.  However the US government – presumably because at that time it had a FOBS programme of its own – decided that FOBS did not violate the Outer Space Treaty because a FOBS warhead was technically not in orbit as it did not make a complete cycle of the earth.

FOBS was then supposed to be banned by the SALT II Treaty agreed by US President Carter and Soviet President Brezhnev in 1979.  However the SALT II Treaty was never ratified by the US Senate, and never came into legal force.

The US therefore had two opportunities to ban FOBS in 1967 and 1979, and passed up both.

The result is that with the coming of Sarmat it now quite possibly faces the prospect of having such a system deployed against it, which had it been less intransigent in pursuing its weapons programmes it might have prevented.

Needless to say, a nuclear warhead falling upon the US from space and coming towards the US from any direction is effectively impervious to interception by any of the missile defence systems the US has created or is planning.

The two next systems which President Putin discussed appear to use shared nuclear reactor technologies.  They are a nuclear powered cruise missile and a nuclear powered underwater drone.

(2) Nuclear powered cruise missile

Here is what President Putin had to say about this system

Russia’s advanced arms are based on the cutting-edge, unique achievements of our scientists, designers and engineers. One of them is a small-scale heavy-duty nuclear energy unit that can be installed in a missile like our latest X-101 air-launched missile or the American Tomahawk missile – a similar type but with a range dozens of times longer, dozens, basically an unlimited range. It is a low-flying stealth missile carrying a nuclear warhead, with almost an unlimited range, unpredictable trajectory and ability to bypass interception boundaries. It is invincible against all existing and prospective missile defence and counter-air defence systems. I will repeat this several times today.

In late 2017, Russia successfully launched its latest nuclear-powered missile at the Central training ground. During its flight, the nuclear-powered engine reached its design capacity and provided the necessary propulsion.

Now that the missile launch and ground tests were successful, we can begin developing a completely new type of weapon, a strategic nuclear weapons system with a nuclear-powered missile……

You can see how the missile bypasses interceptors. As the range is unlimited, the missile can manoeuvre for as long as necessary.

The key breakthrough is in miniaturising a nuclear reactor so that it can be fitted inside the engine of a cruise missile with dimensions similar to those of the US Tomahawk and the Russian Kh-101 cruise missiles.

This is a revolutionary breakthrough which – as President Putin says – gives Russia’s subsonic cruise missiles effectively unlimited range.

This incidentally negates any advantage the US might obtain by siting land based cruise missiles in Europe as it did in the 1980s.

In the 1980s the USSR had no effective counter since whilst US land based cruise missiles based in western Europe could reach the territory of the western USSR, Soviet land based cruise missiles based on Soviet territory or in eastern Europe could not reach the territory of the continental United States.

With the imminent deployment of a Russian nuclear powered cruise missile with unlimited range – and therefore capable of reaching the continental United States from Russian territory – that advantage has now gone.

As President Putin says a subsonic nuclear powered cruise missile is moreover essentially invulnerable to the anti ballistic missile system the US is currently deploying.

However though small and stealthy cruise missiles are difficult targets, they are not immune to interception.

The effectiveness of these missiles may therefore depend on how many of these missiles Russia can build?

If it can build large numbers of them then it is possible that US defences might become overwhelmed.  However that depends on the cost of the nuclear motor.

(3) Nuclear powered underwater drone

The existence of this drone has been known about for some time, ever since November 2015 in fact when the existence of this drone (referred to as “Status-6”) was briefly – and perhaps intentionally – disclosed by Russian television.

Here is what Putin had to say about it

Now, we all know that the design and development of unmanned weapon systems is another common trend in the world. As concerns Russia, we have developed unmanned submersible vehicles that can move at great depths (I would say extreme depths) intercontinentally, at a speed multiple times higher than the speed of submarines, cutting-edge torpedoes and all kinds of surface vessels, including some of the fastest. It is really fantastic. They are quiet, highly manoeuvrable and have hardly any vulnerabilities for the enemy to exploit. There is simply nothing in the world capable of withstanding them.

Unmanned underwater vehicles can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads, which enables them to engage various targets, including aircraft groups, coastal fortifications and infrastructure.

In December 2017, an innovative nuclear power unit for this unmanned underwater vehicle completed a test cycle that lasted many years. The nuclear power unit is unique for its small size while offering an amazing power-weight ratio. It is a hundred times smaller than the units that power modern submarines, but is still more powerful and can switch into combat mode, that is to say, reach maximum capacity, 200 times faster.

The tests that were conducted enabled us to begin developing a new type of strategic weapon that would carry massive nuclear ordnance.

The purpose of the drone when launched against the continental United States would appear to be to create a tsunami wave 500 metres tall, which apart from causing massive loss of life would radioactively contaminate a large area of the US coast.

It is assumed that in its nuclear tipped form the drone carries a large thermonuclear cobalt warhead of up to 100 megatons – twice the power of the so-called ‘Tsar Bomb” detonated by the USSR in 1961 – which would be by a very great distance the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built.

Here is how Wikipedia describes the drone

It appears to be a torpedo-shaped robotic mini-submarine which can travel at speeds of 185 km/h (100 kn).[7][10][13] More recent information suggests a top speed of 100 km/h (54 kn), with a range of 10,000 km (5,400 nmi; 6,200 mi) and a depth maximum of 1,000 m (3,300 ft).[14] This underwater drone is cloaked by stealth technology to elude acoustic tracking devices.[10] Its size appears to be 1.6 metres in diameter, and 24 metres long.[8] The warhead shown in the leaked figure is a cylinder 1.5 meters in diameter by 4 meters in length, giving a volume of 7 cubic meters. Comparing this to the volumes of other large thermonuclear bombs — the 1961 Soviet-era Tsar Bomba itself measured eight meters long by 2.1 meters in diameter — indicates that the yield is at least several tens of megatons, generally consistent with early reports.

As Wikipedia rightly says, the indiscriminate nature of this weapon system when used in its nuclear tipped form means that it is intended to be a weapon of last resort intended to inflict maximum damage upon an enemy in case Russia’s land based missile arsenal is disabled by a first strike.

Two further points can be made about this drone.

The first is that its nuclear reactor almost certainly shares technologies with that used in the engine of the nuclear powered cruise missile discussed above.

The second is that President Putin’s words show that it also comes in a form with a conventional warhead, and that in this version it is intended to be used as an anti-carrier weapon.

 (4) Aircraft launched Kinzhal hypersonic missile

It has been know for some time that Russia is developing long range hypersonic missiles, and President Putin provided details of one of them

Countries with high research potential and advanced technology are known to be actively developing so-called hypersonic weapons. The speed of sound is usually measured in Mach numbers in honour of Austrian scientist Ernst Mach who is known for his research in this field. One Mach is equal to 1,062 kilometres per hour at an altitude of 11 kilometres. The speed of sound is Mach 1, speeds between Mach 1 and Mach 5 is called supersonic, and hypersonic is above Mach 5. Of course, this kind of weapon provides substantial advantages in an armed conflict. Military experts believe that it would be extremely powerful, and that its speed makes it invulnerable to current missile and air defence systems, since interceptor missiles are, simply put, not fast enough. In this regard, it is quite understandable why the leading armies of the world seek to possess such an ideal weapon.

Friends, Russia already has such a weapon.

The most important stage in the development of modern weapons systems was the creation of a high-precision hypersonic aircraft missile system; as you already know for sure, it is the only one of its kind in the world. Its tests have been successfully completed, and, moreover, on December 1 of last year, these systems began their trial service at the airfields of the Southern Military District.

The unique flight characteristics of the high-speed carrier aircraft allow the missile to be delivered to the point of discharge within minutes. The missile flying at a hypersonic speed, 10 times faster than the speed of sound, can also manoeuvre at all phases of its flight trajectory, which also allows it to overcome all existing and, I think, prospective anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence systems, delivering nuclear and conventional warheads in a range of over 2,000 kilometres. We called this system Kinzhal (Dagger).

President Putin’s description makes it clear that this is an aircraft launched hypersonic standoff (ie. long range) missile, with the carrier aircraft being presumably Russia’s current TU-160 and TU-95 strategic bombers and Russia’s prospective PAK-DA stealth bomber.

President Putin says that development of this missile is complete and that it is already on flight test with aircraft of the Southern Military District, presumably at Engels airforce base in southern Russia.

President Putin gave a range for the Kinzhal – which may share technologies with the pending Zircon hypersonic anti ship missile – of 2,000 kilometres, and gave it a speed of Mach 10.

If the Kinzhal is indeed about to enter service as President Putin says – and there is no reason to disbelieve him – then it will be the first strategic hypersonic standoff missile to enter service with any military.

(5) Avangard hypersonic projectile

This is a completely different and much more advanced hypersonic weapons system than Kinzhal.

Here is what President Putin had to say about it

A real technological breakthrough is the development of a strategic missile system with fundamentally new combat equipment – a gliding wing unit, which has also been successfully tested……

……I am pleased to inform you that successfully completed experiments during these exercises enable us to confirm that in the near future, the Russian Armed Forces, the Strategic Missile Forces, will receive new hypersonic-speed, high-precision new weapons systems that can hit targets at inter-continental distance and can adjust their altitude and course as they travel. This is a very significant statement because no country in the world as of now has such arms in their military arsenal…..

Unlike existing types of combat equipment, this system is capable of intercontinental flight at supersonic speeds in excess of Mach 20.

As I said in 2004, in moving to its target, the missile’s gliding cruise bloc engages in intensive manoeuvring – both lateral (by several thousand km) and vertical. This is what makes it absolutely invulnerable to any air or missile defence system. The use of new composite materials has made it possible to enable the gliding cruise bloc to make a long-distance guided flight practically in conditions of plasma formation. It flies to its target like a meteorite, like a ball of fire. The temperature on its surface reaches 1,600–2,000 degrees Celsius but the cruise bloc is reliably guided.

For obvious reasons we cannot show the outer appearance of this system here. This is still very important. I hope everyone understands this. But let me assure you that we have all this and it is working well. Moreover, Russian industrial enterprises have embarked on the development of another new type of strategic weapon. We called it the Avangard.

We are well aware that a number of other countries are developing advanced weapons with new physical properties. We have every reason to believe that we are one step ahead there as well – at any rate, in the most essential areas.

Unlike Kinzhal this system is clearly still in development.

President Putin’s description of it makes it clear that unlike Kinzhal this is a projectile not a missile ie. it glides to its target at hypersonic speed (Mach 20) and is not powered by an onboard motor.  Though President Putin did not release any picture of what it would look like, the video which accompanied his comments shows that it somewhat resembles the hypersonic warhead shown in this picture, which may be of a similar Chinese system.

Probably the launch system for Avangard is the new heavy Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, with Avangard possibly being launched from near earth orbit.

In other words Avangard appears to be an advanced hypersonic warhead for the Sarmat, though it should be said that President Putin’s words were – intentionally – somewhat vague about it.

Avangard’s advantage over FOBS is that it is a manoeuvring warhead with a longer and more flexible range than a FOBS warhead.  Conceivably it could also be used with a conventional warhead for example to attack carrier groups.

That the Russians have been working on a hypersonic glide warhead vehicle has been known about for some time, and it is known that work on such systems is also underway in the US and China.

President Putin’s comments suggest that the Russians believe their system is further advanced in development than the parallel systems being developed in the US and China.

(6) Laser weapons 

President Putin spoke of ‘laser weapons’ being already in service with the Russian military.  However when referring to these weapons he gave almost nothing away

We have achieved significant progress in laser weapons. It is not just a concept or a plan any more. It is not even in the early production stages. Since last year, our troops have been armed with laser weapons.

I do not want to reveal more details. It is not the time yet. But experts will understand that with such weaponry, Russia’s defence capacity has multiplied.

Those interested in military equipment are welcome to suggest a name for this new weaponry, this cutting-edge system.

Of course, we will be refining this state-of-the-art technology.

These words do not make it clear whether these laser weapons are strategic or tactical weapons.  Nor did the accompanying video, which showed a laser weapon being deployed from a trailer, make clear their purpose.  Possibly they are some sort of anti aircraft or anti satellite system.

President Putin’s presentation has provoked a mixture of incredulity and ridicule in the US, with claims that the weapons systems he unveiled do not exist or that Russia cannot afford them, and that his presentation was a bluff.

This is despite President Putin’s warning that his presentation is not a bluff

Now we have to be aware of this reality and be sure that everything I have said today is not a bluff ‒ and it is not a bluff, believe me ‒ and to give it a thought and dismiss those who live in the past and are unable to look into the future, to stop rocking the boat we are all in and which is called the Earth.

In fact apart from the laser weapons and the nuclear powered cruise missile all of the weapons systems President Putin spoke about in his State of the Nation address have previously been discussed in open literature.

Thus the fact that the Russians were developing a hypersonic warhead glide vehicle, a nuclear powered underwater drone, a hypersonic standoff cruise missile, and the new Sarmat heavy ICBM, were things that were already previously known and talked about.

The Pentagon has even confirmed Russian tests of some of these systems: for example the underwater drone is known to have been tested in 2016 in the Arctic seas.

These systems do involve important technological breakthroughs, but the one area where the Russians appear to be farthest ahead of the West – and where President Putin’s presentation today will cause the Pentagon the greatest concern – is in Russia’s success in miniaturising nuclear reactors to the point where they can be used to power Tomahawk sized cruise missiles.

Rosatom – Russia’s giant state owned corporation which directs Russia’s nuclear industry – is known to be at the forefront of nuclear reactor technology, and the Russians have a long history of developing and building small nuclear reactors, as for example in their ocean reconnaissance satellites of the 1980s and – reputedly – in their current Sarov submarine, so skepticism about President Putin’s claim that they have developed a nuclear reactor small enough to fit into the engine of a Tomahawk sized cruise missile is unwarranted.

A nuclear reactor small enough to fit inside the engine of Tomahawk sized cruise missile could in theory also be used in engines to power civil and military manned aircraft, giving them effectively unlimited range.

The Soviets did in fact experiment with a nuclear powered bomber (the TU-95LAL) in the early 1960s.

However concerns about the effectiveness of reactor shielding for the crew and about the environmental effect of an accident put paid to the idea of nuclear powered aircraft in the 1960s, and despite the huge technological advances since then the same concerns would almost certainly defeat any project for a nuclear powered manned aircraft today.

As to the affordability of these weapons, the reality is that apart from the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle warhead – which has its analogues in the US and China, and which Russia was previously known to be developing – none of the weapons systems discussed by President Putin in his State of the Nation address look especially expensive.

Probably the most costly of these systems apart from Avangard is the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, which uses technologies with which the Russians are highly experienced.

In summary, these are real weapons or – in the case of the still being developed Avangard – real programmes, and there is no reason to doubt that they will all shortly be deployed with the Russian armed forces, just as President Putin says.

The Duran

 

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UN Feigns Outrage Over Ghouta While Terrorist Rockets Rain Down on Damascus – By Eva Bartlett ( MintPress )

A man is seen near the remains of a homed-made rocket in Douma, Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria January 22, 2018. (Photo: Bassam Khabieh/Reuters)

Eva Bartlett breaks down the dizzying array of information surrounding the mounting humanitarian crisis in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta. With accusations abound, parsing the reality on the ground is becoming more challenging by the day.

Also on February 22, the UN body tweeted a CNN report citing the SOHR, and of course the UNICEF blank statement of outrage, in the cyclic fashion that is typical of regime-change war propaganda reinforcing itself.

On February 21, UNICEF tweeted a Newsweek photo slideshow titled after UNICEF’s own blank statement of outrage.

The February 20 tweet of the blank UNICEF statement included #EasternGhouta, but no hashtag for Damascus. Surely an oversight…

Their February 19 tweet links to an article on the Bana al-Abed of Ghouta, Muhammad Najem, whose Twitter account began in December 2017 and has nearly 5,000 followers. Expect that number to skyrocket. Expect a memoir to follow.

A UNICEF February 19 tweet on Ghouta links to war propagandist Louisa Loveluck’s article, reporting from Beirut, Lebanon.

If it isn’t already clear, UNICEF is participating in war propaganda against Syria, reporting and endorsing one very exaggerated and not substantiated side of the story, disappearing another very real side.

This is not the first time the UN has covered up terrorists’ crimes against Syrian civilians. In October 2016, I wrote of UNICEF’s unproven claims of an aerial attack on an Idlib school, in which UNICEF decried it as possibly “the deadliest attack on a school since the war began more than five years ago.” As I reported, UNICEF overlooked numerous documented deadly attacks on schools:

On October 1, 2014, terrorists’ car- and suicide-bombed the Akrama Al-Makhzoumi School in Homs, killing at least 41 children by conservative estimates, or up to 48 children by other reports, along with women and other civilians.”

I further noted:

On October 28, 2016, RT reporter Murad Gazdiev reported from Aleppo on the latest attacks by Western-backed terrorists on a school in the city. At the time of the report, at least six children were reported killed by a Hell Cannon-fired gas canister bomb which struck a school in Ḩadaiq al-Andalus. From an Aleppo hospital, Gazdiev reported:

‘The rebels launched the rocket at 10 in the morning. Seconds later it hit the National School of Aleppo… Three of the children died on the spot…. blood and pieces of them sprayed on the walls. The victims, six children, ranged in age from 2 to 12. In some cases, doctors weren’t sure if they’d put the right body parts with the correct bodies. Three of the dead children were siblings: two brothers and a sister. Their father was beyond consolation. His mental stability had been torn apart.’

This statement was given over footage of a devastated father kissing the corpses of his children.”

In January 2016, I wrote of OCHA’s selective tweeting around the terrorist-occupied village of Madaya, obfuscating the terrorist-besieged Idlib villages of Foua and Kafraya.

Honest reporters like Murad Gazdiev entered Madaya in January 2016 and confirmed that food and medical aid had indeed entered. He spoke with residents who complained of the armed groups stealing this food.

When I went to Madaya in June 2017, I spoke with civilians there who stated that vast amounts of food and medical aid entered the area, but they had no access to it, as Ahrar al-Sham, al-Nusra and co-extremists holding the village hoarded the food and sold it at extortionist prices. I also saw prisons use to hold, and sometimes torture, civilians before their trials in terrorists’ courts. I also saw these in eastern Aleppo and in al-Layramoun, in the city’s northwest. When eastern Ghouta is finally secured, it won’t be surprising to learn that schools, hospitals, and/or homes were turned into prisons to hold the civilians for whom the UN and corporate media feign concern.

 

Why the UNICEF bias?

Henrietta Fore, during her time at director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and USAID Administrator under George W. Bush in Doha, Qatar, Nov. 30, 2008. Fore also acted as former Director of the U.S. Mint. She now heads UNICEF. (AP/Hassan Ammar)

According to UNICEF, the current executive director, Henrietta H. Fore, was formerly Administrator of USAID, Chief Operating Officer for the U.S. Department of State, and Director of the United States Mint in the U.S. Department of Treasury.

The prior UNICEF executive director, Anthony Lake, was national security advisor to President Clinton, and was nominated to be the director of the CIA.

According to Telesur, Lake played a significant role in mass starvation in Somalia in 2010-2012, under-budgeting food aid, budgeting “10 cents a day per person to feed a million internally displaced persons.” Telesur reported that Lake also “admitted publicly that he knew about and did nothing to prevent the genocide in Rwanda, something he ‘regretted.’”

In Yemen, the UN is suspected of having smuggled in two CIA agents, as reported in 2015 by journalist Nizar Abboud, and surprisingly in 2017 by The New York Times.

UNICEF executive directors who formerly worked for USAID, the U.S. State Department, even Director of the United States Mint in the U.S. Department of Treasury: it seems that UNICEF’s role is less about humanitarian aid and more about being the humanitarian propaganda arm of Washington.

We should, indeed, feel sorrow for any civilian casualties in the U.S./U.K. and allies’ war on Syria. However, after years of the most egregious war propaganda on Syria, we should also exercise caution about the latest stories, be they from unsourced SOHR reports or the UN itself.

Remember, Omran Daqneesh was once depicted widely as the face of Syrian suffering. As it turned out, the entire story Western media and agencies told was false, based on unreliable sources.

Recall that the humanitarian agency MSF once insisted that Syrian or Russian airstrikes had destroyed — reduced “to rubble” — a hospital that MSF supported. This turned out to be utterly false.

Unlike MSF, unlike the most of journalists who reported lies around Omran Daqneesh, I did go to see the intact Quds hospital, and met Omran and his father, who told me everything the media had reported on his son was false; the media had exploited his boy. Both MSF and corporate media lied about these stories, and their lies were used to call for further Western intervention in Syria.

 

Targeting of Afrin civilians met with relative silence

Flames rise from buses and trucks in a convoy headed to Afrin, Syria. According to Syrian state TV, a convoy carrying aid heading toward Afrin was targeted by Turkish artillery, in al-Ziara village. The incident, came two days after pro-government fighters began entering the predominantly Kurdish town to shore up the Kurdish forces, Feb. 23, 2018. (SANA via AP)

While UNICEF on January 26 noted having received “alarming reports” regarding children’s deaths in Afrin, it hasn’t thus far expressed outrage at the Turkish murder of civilians in the northwestern Syrian town. On February 20, SANA reported:

Entering its 32nd day, the Turkish aggression continues to claim more civilian casualties and causing material damage to properties.

Medical sources at Afrin Hospital told SANA that so far, 175 civilians were killed and more than 450 civilians, most of them children and women, were injured due to the continued assault on civilians’ houses and infrastructure.”

Contrast the nonspecific and tame title of the January 26 UNICEF statement, “UNICEF statement on the escalating violence in Syria,” to the emotive language of February 20, riding on the coattails of corporate media hysteria around Ghouta:

The war on children in Syria: Reports of mass casualties among children in Eastern Ghouta and Damascus; … No words will do justice to the children killed; … We no longer have the words to describe children’s suffering and our outrage; … barbaric acts …”

The UN has yet to issue an updated statement of concern regarding the latest Turkish bombings of Afrin.

In UN humanitarian chief Lowcock’s February 22 address, he spoke of “the killing of civilians and the destruction of entire cities and neighborhoods.”

However, he didn’t mean the killing of hundreds (a lower estimate) or even thousands of Syrian civilians by the U.S.-led coalition, illegal in Syria — the latest being 12 civilians, “mostly women and children,” killed in residential neighborhoods in Hajin town in Deir Ezzor eastern countryside on February 21.

One day prior, Syrian media reported the deaths of “at least 16 civilians, including nine women,” in al-Bahra village, Deir Ezzor countryside, noting, “the death toll is likely to rise as a number of civilians were injured and some of them are in critical condition as a result of airstrikes…”

A UN press release on Lowcock’s statement cited him as saying: “You can still save lives in eastern Ghouta – and elsewhere in Syria. I urge you to do so.”

But this is precisely what Syrian officials have been attempting to do, with offers of amnesty, safe transport of out of Ghouta, and the provision of medical and food aid.

Recently, independent researcher Hadi Nasrallah tweeted (in a long thread on Ghouta):

Even After 7 years of failed negotiations with terrorists for the sake of civilians held in Eastern Ghouta, the Syrian government dropped flyers and maps on the terrorist-held city to give details for civilians on how to flee areas with high tensions and guaranteed them safety”

Al Masdar News reported:

…eight projectiles struck the Al-Wafideen camp site where the Syrian Army has set up an evacuation point for civilians attempting to escape militant-held areas of East Ghouta.”

As with Aleppo, a humanitarian corridor has been established to enable eastern Ghouta residents to leave the district. However, given that terrorists repeatedly shelled humanitarian corridors in Aleppo (including a corridor road I stood on in November 2016), holding civilians hostage, it is quite likely terrorists in eastern Ghouta will do the same.

Yet, in the end, the combination of humanitarian corridors and Syria’s offer of amnesty and reconciliation enabled the exit of terrorists and return of life in Aleppo. As of August 2017, over half a million displaced Syrians returned home, the vast majority internally-displaced.

In Madaya, al-Waer, Homs, and many other areas of Syria, the same deals as in Aleppo enabled the return of stability and life.

In addition to opening the humanitarian corridors, the Syrian army has dropped leaflets over eastern Ghouta informing civilians of designated safe exits for civilians to leave the district to safety in Damascus.

These are the types of actions the UN should be focused on and supporting, not repeating war propaganda that only confuses and prolongs the fight for peace.

Top Photo | A man is seen near the remains of a home-made rocket in Douma, Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria January 22, 2018. (Photo: Bassam Khabieh/Reuters)

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground cover conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Palestine. She is a recipient of the International Journalism Award for International Reporting. Visit her personal blog, In Gaza, and support her work on Patreon.

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Militants in Eastern Ghouta prepare provocation involving chemical weapons — top brass – By TASS

February 25, 22:40 UTC+3

The Russian center for reconciliation calls on all the parties to the conflict to stop any combat actions

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© DHA-Depo Photos via AP

MOSCOW, February 25. /TASS/. Leaders of militant units entrenched in Eastern Ghouta are preparing a provocation that will involve the use of chemical agents. After it they plan to accuse the Syrian government forces of utilization of chemical weapons against peaceful civilians, the Russian center for reconciliation of the warring sides said on Sunday.

“The data at our disposal indicates the leaders of militant units are preparing a provocation that will involve the utilization of chemical weapons in order to accuse the government forces of deploying chemical weapons against peaceful civilians,” the report said.

“The Russian center for reconciliation of the warring sides calls on all the parties to the conflict to stop any combat actions and armed provocations.”.

Eastern Ghouta, an area controlled by the militants and encircled by Syrian Army units, is on the list of de-escalation zones set up in line with the May 4, 2017, agreement signed by the countries that act as guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire Russia, Iran and Turkey. Earlier reports quoting a spokesperson for the UN Secretary General said more than 100 persons had died in Eastern Ghouta since last Monday and the figure included thirteen children.

 

The reports also claimed five hospitals had undergone air raids and more than 700 people needed an emergency evacuation for medical reasons.

More:
http://tass.com/defense/991523

Top Ten Signs the US Is the Most Corrupt Nation in the World – By Juan Cole (MINT PRESS)

Rit Picone of Newpaltz, N.Y., carries an American flag upside down as a symbol of protest against the influence of money in politics. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Don’t tell the global South how corrupt they are for taking a few petty bribes. Americans are not seen as corrupt because we only deal in the big denominations. Steal $2 trillion and you aren’t corrupt, you’re respectable.

Those ratings that castigate Afghanistan and some other poor countries as hopelessly “corrupt” always imply that the United States is not corrupt. This year’s report from Transparency International puts the US on a par with Austria, which is ridiculous. All kinds of people from politicians to businessmen would go to jail in Austria today if they engaged in practices that are quite common in the US.

While it is true that you don’t typically have to bribe your postman to deliver the mail in the US, in many key ways America’s political and financial practices make it in absolute terms far more corrupt than the usual global South suspects. After all, the US economy is worth over $18 trillion a year, so in our corruption, a lot more money changes hands.

1. A sure sign of corruption is an electoral outcome like 2016. An addled nonentity like Donald Trump got filthy rich via tax loopholes a predatory behavior in his casinos and other businesses, and then was permitted to buy the presidency with his own money. He was given billions of dollars in free campaign time every evening on CNN, MSNBC, Fox and other channels that should have been more even-handed, because they were in search of advertising dollars and Trump was a good draw. Then, too, the way the Supreme Court got rid of campaign finance reform and allowed open, unlimited secret buying of elections is the height of corruption. The permitting of massive black money in our elections was taken advantage of by the Russian Federation, which, having hopelessly corrupted its own presidential elections, managed to further corrupt the American ones, as well. Once ensconced in power, Trump Inc. has taken advantage of the power of White House to engage in a wide range of corrupt practices, including an attempt to sell visas to wealthy Chinese and the promotion of the Trump brand as part of diplomacy.

2. The rich are well placed to bribe our politicians to reduce taxes on the rich. The Koch brothers and other mega-rich troglodytes explicitly told Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan in 2017 that if the Republican Party, controlling all three branches of government, could not lower taxes on its main sponsors, there would be no billionaire backing of the party in the 2018 midterms. This threat of an electoral firing squad made the hundreds of bribe-takers in Congress sit up and take notice, and they duly gave away to the billionaire class $1.5 trillion in government services (that’s what Federal taxes are, folks, services–roads, schools, health inspections, implementation of anti-pollution laws–things that everyone benefits from and which won’t be there anymore. To the extent that the government will try to continue to provide those slashed services despite assessing no taxes on the people with the money to pay for them, it will run up an enormous budget deficit and weaken the dollar, which is a form of inflation in the imported goods sector. Inflation hits the poor the worst. As it stands, 3 American billionaires are worth, as much as the bottom 150 million Americans. That kind of wealth inequality hasn’t been seen in the US since the age of the robber barons in the nineteenth century. Both eras are marked by extreme corruption.

One sign of American corruption is the rapidity with which American society has become more unequal since the 1980s Reagan destruction of the progressive income tax. The wealthier the top 1 percent is, the more politicians it can buy to gather up even more of the country’s wealth. In my lifetime the top one percent has gone from holding 25% of the privately held wealth under Eisenhower to 38% today.

3. Instead of having short, publicly-funded political campaigns with limited and/or free advertising (as a number of Western European countries do), the US has long political campaigns in which candidates are dunned big bucks for advertising. They are therefore forced to spend much of their time fundraising, which is to say, seeking bribes. All American politicians are basically on the take, though many are honorable people. They are forced into it by the system. The campaign season should be shortened to 3 months (did we really need 2 years to get an outcome in which a fool like Trump is president?), and Congress should pass a law that winners of primaries don’t have to pay for political ads on tv and radio.

When French President Nicolas Sarkozy was defeated in 2012, soon thereafter French police actually went into his private residence searching for an alleged $50,000 in illicit campaign contributions from the L’Oreale heiress. I thought to myself, seriously? $50,000 in a presidential campaign? Our presidential campaigns cost a billion dollars each! $50,000 is a rounding error, not a basis for police action. Why, George W. Bush took millions from arms manufacturers and then ginned up a war for them, and the police haven’t been anywhere near his house.

American politicians don’t represent “the people.” With a few honorable exceptions, they represent the 1%. American democracy is being corrupted out of existence.


Read more by Juan Cole


4. Money and corruption have seeped so far into our media system that people can with a straight face assert that scientists aren’t sure human carbon emissions are causing global warming. Fox Cable News is among the more corrupt institutions in American society, purveying outright lies for the benefit of the fossil fuels billionaire class. The US is so corrupt that it is resisting the obvious urgency to slash carbon production. Virtually the entire Republican Party resists the firm consensus of all respected scientists in the world and the firm consensus of everybody else in the world save for a few denialists in English-speaking countries. This resistance to an urgent and dangerous reality comes about because they are bribed to take this stance. Even Qatar, its economy based on natural gas, freely admits the challenge of human-induced climate change. American politicians like Jim Inhofe are openly ridiculed when they travel to Europe for their know-nothingism on climate.

4. That politicians can be bribed to reduce regulation of industries like banking (what is called “regulatory capture”) means that they will be so bribed. Scott Pruitt, a Manchurian candidate from Big Oil, has single-handedly demolished the Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of polluting industry. This assault on the health of American citizens on behalf of vampirical corporations is the height of corruption.

6. The US military budget is bloated and enormous, bigger than the military budgets of the next twelve major states. What isn’t usually realized is that perhaps half of it is spent on outsourced services, not on the military. It is corporate welfare on a cosmic scale. I’ve seen with my own eyes how officers in the military get out and then form companies to sell things to their former colleagues still on the inside. Precisely because it is a cesspool of large-scale corruption, Trump’s budget will throw over $100 billion extra taxpayer dollars at it.

7. The US has a vast gulag of 2.2 million prisoners in jail and penitentiary. There is an increasing tendency for prisons to be privatized, and this tendency is corrupting the system. It is wrong for people to profit from putting and keeping human beings behind bars. This troubling trend is made all the more troubling by the move to give extra-long sentences for minor crimes, to deny parole and to imprison people for life for e,g, three small thefts.

8. The National Security Agency’s domestic spying was a form of corruption in itself, and lends itself to corruption. With some 4 million government employees and private contractors engaged in this surveillance, it is highly unlikely that various forms of insider trading and other corrupt practices are not being committed. If you knew who Warren Buffett and George Soros were calling every day, that alone could make you a killing. The American political class wouldn’t have defended this indefensible invasion of citizens’ privacy so vigorously if someone somewhere weren’t making money on it.

9. As for insider trading, it turns out Congress undid much of the law it hastily passed forbidding members, rather belatedly, to engage in insider trading (buying and selling stock based on their privileged knowledge of future government policy). That this practice only became an issue recently is another sign of how corrupt the system is.

10. Asset forfeiture in the ‘drug war’ is corrupting police departments and the judiciary. Although some state legislatures are dialing this corrupt practice back, it is widespread and a danger to the constitution.

So don’t tell the global South how corrupt they are for taking a few petty bribes. Americans are not seen as corrupt because we only deal in the big denominations. Steal $2 trillion and you aren’t corrupt, you’re respectable.

Watch | Corruption Perceptions Index 2017

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/oHwW27kLazg?rel=0&showinfo=0

Top Photo | Rit Picone of Newpaltz, N.Y., carries an American flag upside down as a symbol of protest against the influence of money in politics. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, his new book, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East (Simon and Schuster), will officially be published July 1st; he is also the author of Engaging the Muslim World and Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East (both Palgrave Macmillan)l He has appeared widely on television, radio and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at Salon; he has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles; His weblog on the contemporary Middle East is Informed Comment.

© Informed Comment

Stories published in our Daily Digests section are chosen based on the interest of our readers. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News. The views expressed in these articles are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

British Diplomatic Cable Reveals Western Strategy To Disintegrate Syria – By FARS (SOTT)

US president Donald Trump

© FNA
A Lebanese newspaper wrote that it has gained access to an email from the British embassy in the US which reveals Washington’s 5-paragraph plan to disintegrate Syria

The Arabic-language al-Akhbar newspaper wrote on Saturday that the US officials along with their western allies have decided to implement a detailed plan to disintegrate Syria and prolonge the war in the country by continued deployment on the Eastern banks of the Euphrates.

In a somewhat familiar but precise English, Benjamin Norman – a diplomat in charge of the Middle East at the British Embassy in Washington – reports in a confidential diplomatic telegram of the first meeting of the “Small American Group on Syria” (United States, Great Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Jordan), held in Washington on January 11, 2018.

In this five-page TD, he reveals the details of the “Western strategy” in Syria: partition of the country, sabotage of Sochi, framing of Turkey and instructions to the UN Special Representative Staffan de Mistura who leads the negotiations of Geneva. A Non Paper (8 pages) accompanies this TD in anticipation of the second meeting of the “Small Group”. It was held in Paris on January 23, mainly devoted to the use of chemical weapons and the “instructions” sent by the “Small American Group” to Staffan de Mistura.

Hugh Cleary (Head of the Near and Middle East Department of the Foreign Office ), Jérôme Bonnafont (Director ANMO / North Africa and Middle East at the Quai d’Orsay), David Satterfield (US Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East) and Jordanian Nawaf Tell and Saudi Jamal al-Aqeel attended the January 11 meeting in Washington. The American opened the meeting, stating that a second meeting would be held in Paris on January 23.

David Satterfield confirmed that President Trump has decided to maintain a large US military presence in Syria, despite the victory over the “Islamic State Organization” (Daesh); the cost of this maintenance being set at $ 4 billion annually. He said that this US military presence should prevent any resurgence of Daesh but, above all, to prevent the Iranians from what he called as settling permanently and imposing themselves in the search for a political solution”. Thirdly, he insisted that the first meeting of the “Small Group” should also provide “material and political support for Staffan de Mistura to” consolidate the Geneva process “.

All the participants welcomed this development very positively in order to “make substantial progress in Syria during the year 2018” and “respond to the propaganda of a Russian victory”. Then, the participants insisted on the “Russian desire to achieve a political solution” that was to be used to make the “Small Group” objectives “more operational”.

The United States noted that they would no longer participate in the Astana meetings, having reduced “their participation to a very low level, to emphasize their commitment to Geneva”; in definitive terms, it was decided to “draw a conceptual line on Astana to return to Geneva”. They then felt that so far “Geneva remained a failure, despite the efforts of Staffan de Mistura”. They were very cautious about including the ceasefire in the Geneva talks: “the truth is that we just do not have the ability to prevent the regime from nibbling the pockets of the opposition. remaining in Idlib and East of Ghouta “.

TD reports great progress “made by the opposition over the last few months,” pointing out that “it will still need to be more flexible to ensure that the Regime does not leave Geneva (…) while the Americans do not support the assumption of a transitional government as provided for in UN Security Council Resolution 2254 “.

The text adds that “it would still be useful for the opposition to stop agitating this assumption all the time …”. It was also agreed that “the opposition had to be more flexible and stop agitating the bogeyman of a transitional government without changing the final goal of partitioning Syria and leaving Bashar al-Assad.

The French representative – Jérôme Bonnafont – posed the problem of a possible participation of Bashar al-Assad in future elections. David Satterfield responded that “the goal was to create conditions and institutions that would allow elections that Assad could not win.”

Satterfield added that “there is no flagrant reason” to prevent Assad from being a candidate. Under these conditions, it was mainly a question of testing Russia’s intentions, especially so that it could “get the regime to discuss a new constitution, free elections under the control of the United Nations, and the creation of an environment likely to favor these two processes”.

Unrestricted agreement of all members of the “Small Group” meeting to “no longer be satisfied with Lavrov’s honeyed words, in order to put Moscow under pressure”. For Satterfield, it is about getting the Russians to let Assad go, “through meetings of the Security Council and a broad public communication campaign,” believing that the announced re-election of Vladimir Putin positively undermined the Russian position.

One of the conclusions of this first meeting of the “Small Group” is perfectly clear: “to reinvigorate Geneva so that Sochi becomes irrelevant”; France demanding more “transparency on the Russian position”. But it is still not to oppose “frontally” in Sochi “with the advantage of gathering a significant share of the Syrian civil society”, to bring back the “most positive contributions to Geneva, to renew and relaunch this format of Geneva.

The Saudis warned of a “risk of fragmentation of the different opposition groups and asked for help to maintain the cohesion of the opposition.” Satterfield replied that their representatives should “be more involved in finding a political solution rather than enjoy great salaries and long stays in pleasant hotels.” France supported this remark by emphasizing “communication”. In this regard, the British TD makes the following comment: “Unfortunately, the Fifth French Republic is not intended to finance this effort,” British representatives recalling “that the communication of the opposition was funded in the first place by … the United Kingdom “.

David Satterfield then explained that the Turkish opposition to the “Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG)” prevented the Kurds from participating in Geneva. While understanding Ankara’s position, he stressed that “we could not ignore a group that controlled a third of Syria (SIC) and took the largest part in the fight against Daesh “.

He explained that “Americans were seeking to establish multi-ethnic leadership in northeastern Syria to dilute the hegemony of the YPG.” On the other hand, it was necessary to impose the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces, mainly Kurdish and under American control) in the process of Geneva.

Comment from the TD author: “I understand that the United States will appoint William (Bill) Roebuck, their former ambassador to Bahrain, as the SDF Special Representative. I will follow, but it is worth remembering – according to the separate discussions we had, for example with Fiona Hill – that relations between the United States and Turkey are already bad and unlikely to improve. As a result, Americans are not in the best position to do – solo – the big job with SDF and Ankara.

The objective is clearly defined: “to get Staffan de Mistura to accept in Geneva a tripartite structure incorporating the opposition, Assad and the SDF”.

Moreover, the Deputy Secretary of State indicates that a “Non-Paper – Reviving the Syrian Political Track in Geneva – will be communicated to Staffan de Mistura before the meeting of January 23 in Paris,” in order to put the Russians at the foot of the Wall “. This document includes: “a political road map, the elements of a constitutional reform, the UN election supervision structure and guidelines for the establishment of a peaceful environment”.

For their part, the Jordanians called the session “Small Group” of “meeting publique most secret of all time.” And the author of the TD concludes: “For the moment, we must keep a group consisting only of the United States, Great Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The next to be invited should be Egypt and Germany (for whom we have pleaded). Turkey should also join the group, but the discussion with it may be poisoned by the Kurds, which will make it more difficult to neutralize Astana. It is therefore not urgent to integrate these last three countries.”

The concluding comments of this TD speak volumes about the future of Western strategy in Syria. The three key conclusions underscore “a real reaffirmation of US leadership behind the scenes …”. The second perspective is to “keep the pressure on Russia, even if Russia can not convince Moscow to let go of the regime as we had hoped.” In this regard, “we must continue – what we are already doing – to denounce the horrible humanitarian situation as well as the Russian complicity in the campaign of bombing civilian targets.” Finally, concludes the author of TD, “the Americans told me how much they appreciated our contribution and our support in recent months as they were finalizing their strategy.”

This does not augur a forthcoming crisis in Syria in a context marked by four major developments of the most worrying.

1) The United States has decided to strengthen and diversify their nuclear posture. The Pentagon has announced that it will develop miniaturized tactical nuclear weapons “to adapt to new international threats”. Iranian President Hassan Rohani responded: “How can anyone speak of world peace and at the same time announce that he is developing new nuclear weapons for his main enemies?”

2) NATO Defense Ministers agreed on 14 and 15 February in Brussels on the outline of a new overhaul of the Atlantic Alliance command structures. This “adaptation – the largest since the end of the Cold War”, according to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, is proposed by the US military. It aims to make the Alliance more effective in a high-intensity crisis. Clearly, it is “better to deter and respond to new threats from certain states, first and foremost Russia.”

3) In the aftermath of the destruction of an Israeli fighter in Syrian airspace, and while Israeli police demand the indictment of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu for corruption, Tel-Aviv accuses Iran of establishing itself in Syria and threatens to multiply its military operations. This is not the first time that the Israeli prime minister – who refuses to resign – is using the resurgence of regional tension to consolidate his personal power and his alliance with the extreme right of the country.

4) Finally, Washington’s military support for the Kurds in Syria continues to provoke the Ankara era. The crisis of confidence is consumed and the Turkish-American axis is on the brink of rupture. Second NATO contingent, the Turkish army had to accompany the conservative and anti-Western turn after the failed coup of July 2016. Mission has been given to a general with conservative and Islamist tendencies to restructure the derailed Turkish army by the purges. [Description: [​IMG]]

Ultimately, the British TD perfectly reflects the Western strategy in Syria: to sabotage the Sochi peace efforts, to add two new wars to the Syrian crisis: that of the Turks against the Kurds and those of the Israelis against Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah. “The Americans have never admitted their military defeat in Syria and do not want to let go and especially their main strategic objective,” said a senior French diplomat, “that of a dismantling of Syria, the type of one who has been driven to Iraq and Libya. Their desire is to arm the Kurds to control the oil areas of eastern Syria in order to influence the political and economic reconstruction of the country. Peace is not for tomorrow.

Comment: See also: ‘Get ISIS and go home’: Trump bucks Pentagon and State Dept. on ultimate US goal in Syria
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